Top 10 throwback albums

Music and nostalgia are intertwined. Look back on a snapshot on time and what’s playing in the background? It’s often those sounds that stitch together those pivotal memories. 

Now, I’m a person of mixed tastes, so there’s an amalgamation of genres in the melting pot here. But here you have it — a selection of my top ten throwback albums…

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Photo credit: André
  1. Ten — Pearl Jam

Grunge doesn’t just start and end with Nirvana. Pearl Jam also hail from Seattle and their iconic record ‘Ten’ takes you on a raging musical journey, so buckle up. ‘Once’ kicks things off with punchy riffs, and that bleeds through to the heavy ‘Even Flow’, ‘Alive’, ‘Why Go’ and ‘Porch’. They’re teen angst anthems that have stayed with me well into adulthood. 

  1. Silent Alarm — Bloc Party

Bloc Party’s debut ‘Silent Alarm’ burst onto my radar when ‘Helicopter’ landed. If you knew it prior to FIFA 06, hats off. If not, we’re in the same camp. What a belter! It’s an indie-rock classic with uptempo ferocity and, wow, it makes my feet tap. Slightly slower, ‘Banquet’ is an easy favourite. Slower still, the softly melodic ‘So Here We Are’ is agonising but beautiful. 

  1. We’re New Here — Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx

The bold green sleeve of this album, with its hot pink cut-out, will capture your eye. But when you begin to listen to the expert craftsmanship, it’ll have your ears hooked, too. The union of jazz and soul singer, Gil Scott-Heron, with The xx’s top DJ, Jamie xx, was something uniquely spellbinding. From ‘NY Is Killing Me’ to ‘I’ll Take Care Of U’, it’s banger central right here.

  1. Summertime ’06 — Vince Staples

As a massive fan of rap, I was only too pleased to get into Vince Staples. His vocals are really distinctive and ’Summertime ’06’ was a playful collection of hits — the main one being ‘Dopeman’ with Joey Fatts and Kilo Kish, of course. He’s gone from strength to strength since, but this record has so many winning elements. ‘Summertime’ is an ambient hit. 

  1. Saosin — Saosin

This was my introduction to post-hardcore and I don’t think I stopped rinsing this for months. For me, Saosin’s self-titled album was a wall-to-wall thriller, and it highlighted the power of Cove Reber’s voice, which cemented his place in the band at this stage. That was between Anthony Green’s departure and return. ‘It’s Far Better To Learn’, ‘Bury Your Head’ and ‘Voices’ are just three gems.

  1. Skin — Flume

Seeing Flume at Warehouse Project last year was nothing short of epic. He rolled out a lot of classics among his new material, but it’s the older offerings of his I prefer. His self-titled debut was immense, but ‘Skin’ was an album of roaring collaborations. We’re talking ‘Lose It’ with Vic Mensa, ‘Smoke & Retribution’ with Vince Staples and KUČKA, and ‘Tiny Cities’ with Beck. Gold. 

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Flume, Warehouse Project, Manchester, 2019
  1. How I Got Over — The Roots

When I first got into hip-hop, I was really taken with The Roots — I still am. ‘How I Got Over’ was just the epitome of ‘cool’, even when you listen to short interludes, such as ‘Tunnel Vision’. And when ‘The Fire’ with John Legend begins, it’s all feisty rap with hypnotic harmonies. I’m glad it was used on the Creed soundtrack as well!

  1. Jungle — Jungle

If Jungle’s ‘Julia’ doesn’t stop you on the spot and make you want to sing very loudly, who are you? Where were you when this dropped? It’s a track that’s backed numerous adverts and games since, and it’s such a funky indie-dance tune. Dig further into the album this features on and you’ll stumble upon the ultra-catchy ‘Busy Earnin’’. Don’t let this pass you by.

  1. Black Sands — Bonobo

I’m really pleased I was able to catch Bonobo on his ‘Migration’ tour a few years ago. But the best of this maestro came before then. ‘Black Sands’ was — and remains — a must-dance-to trip-hop masterpiece. Between ‘Kiara’, ‘Kong’, ‘1009’, ‘The Keeper’ featuring Andreya Triana, and more, it’s a record that warrants being played, played again, and played some more.

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Photo credit: André
  1. Hysteria — Def Leppard

I’m well into my new music — that goes without saying. But I’m outrageously old-school, too. One of the absolute best, meatiest rock albums of all time? Obviously Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’. It was jaw-dropping when I saw them in Sheffield, while ‘Rocket’, ‘Animal’ and ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ will always be faultless bangers from a decade I wish I’d been born in. 

Eclectic? Certainly. All worthy throwbacks? You bet! Go on — get listening if you aren’t already familiar with this lot. 

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